Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

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Provided by Better Business Bureau

Online romance scammers have swindled U.S. and Canadian consumers out of nearly $1 billion in the last three years, the Better Business Bureau reported Tuesday.

The scammers will break your heart, while draining your bank account, said Michelle Corey, president of the St. Louis Better Business Bureau, one of five bureaus that sponsored a national investigation into online romance scams.

Lights illuminate the commemorative plaques that line a memorial walkway near Kirkwood City Hall. The plaques honor those killed at City Hall 10 years ago. Feb. 6, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The choir will sing soothing words of hope when the community gathers Wednesday evening at Kirkwood United Methodist Church for a prayer service marking the 10th anniversary of a tragedy that time has not yet tempered.

“Peace fall like a gentle snow ... Fall fresh on the wounded heart ... Come blanket our every fear and let the healing start ...”

The church commissioned “Canticle of Peace’’ by Joseph M. Martin in 2009 and dedicated it to a community still healing from the City Hall shootings. On Feb. 7, 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, armed with two handguns and a festering grudge against city officials, fatally shot two council members, the director of public works and two police officers before being shot and killed by responding police officers.

A construction worker puts finishing touches on a French Creole cabin in the redesigned museum beneath the Gateway Arch.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Construction crews at the Gateway Arch are installing new museum exhibits in the expanded visitors center of the national monument — the final stage in a massive overhaul of the grounds that began in 2013.

“We’re in the home stretch,’’ said Ryan McClure, communications director for the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, as he led reporters on a tour of the site Friday morning. “Right now, what you’re seeing is exhibits being installed, which is really the last piece that needs to happen in the building.’’

Construction will be completed in time for an opening celebration on July 3, he said. Fair St. Louis will be held on the Arch grounds, beginning on July 4.

Joshua Eckhoff, 33, of Ballwin suffered a traumatic brain injury while clearing roadside bombs in Iraq. January 2018 photo
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Joshua Eckhoff of Ballwin smiled as he described posing for pictures at his college graduation in December — and how proud his mother was. Earning that degree is the latest achievement for the Army veteran who suffered a brain injury in Iraq 10 years ago that no one thought he could survive.

On Feb. 6, 2008, as Eckhoff led a convoy searching for roadside bombs, an improvised explosive device pierced the armored vehicle he was riding in and smashed into the right side of his head. His injury was so severe that the Army notified his mother that he had died in combat.

“I call that my ‘alive day,’ ’’ said Eckhoff, 33. “The anniversary of my injury every year, we celebrate it like a birthday.”

SSM Health is reviewing its security procedures after discovering that a former employee with its customer service call center inappropriately accessed patient medical records between Feb. 13 and Oct. 20, 2017.

Artist rendering of a new MetroLink station being constructed between Boyle Avene and Sarah Street, the first segment of the proposed Chouteau Greenway.
Great Rivers Greenway

Great Rivers Greenway will introduce four teams vying to design the proposed Chouteau Greenway at two public events the first week of January.

A jury of nine local and international experts chose the four teams to advance in a design competition that was announced last fall, said Susan Trautman, chief executive officer of the agency.

The trains are the stars of Dan Schmidt's annual Christmas display in Overland in December 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Six-year-old Adam Messmer watched wide-eyed, as a model train pulled freight cars and tankers through a Christmas landscape that takes up every inch of Dan Schmidt’s front yard in Overland.

“There it is. There it is. There it is,’’ Adam called out, as the red and silver Santa Fe engine reappeared from a tunnel and chugged past a little church and a drive-in theater showing a video of “A Miracle on 34th Street.”

Adam has toy trains of his own, and this is one of his favorite Christmas displays, said Amie Messmer, his mother. They live nearby in Maryland Heights.

Better Business bureau

Scammers are successfully using phone calls, emails and pop-up messages on computer screens to convince American consumers that their computers are infected with phony viruses or malware, warns a new report by the Better Business Bureau.

Scams involving computer technical support aren't new, but they continue to be widespread. Americans forked over more than $21 million to such schemes in the first nine months of this year, according to the FBI.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

How bad will flu season be this year?

Well, it’ll be bad for you, if you catch it. So, get a flu shot, health officials say.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they can’t accurately predict the number of people who will get the flu in a given season, but research shows that vaccinations reduce the risk of influenza by 40 to 60 percent. They recommend flu shots for everyone over 6 months old.

A feral cat recovers after being neutered during a day-long clinic sponsored by the city of St. Louis, Operation Stop Pet Overpopulation and St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach. Volunteers cover the cages of the feral cats to calm them.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Linda Braboy explained her method for trapping feral cats, as she pushed her walker down an alley near Fairground Park on a chilly November Saturday.

She uses the wheeled walker to help her get around, but it also comes in handy for this mission. She has stuffed the pouch with cat food and stacked a couple of wire traps on top.

 This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 24, 2008 - The collapse of some of the nation's oldest financial institutions started on Main Street America with hundreds and thousands of homeowners such as 56-year-old Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood who in May lost to foreclosure the small ranch house that hadbeen in her family since it was built after World War II. How could this happen? The answer is ... complicated. Over the next three days, the Beacon will unravel the story of how Maureen McKenzie of Kirkwood, Mo., lost her 900 square feet of the American Dream. Part 1

Work continues on the Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis. The monument is set to reopen in time for Veterans Day 2018.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Renovation of the Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis is on schedule, and the monument will reopen just before Veterans Day 2018 — the centennial of the armistice that ended World War I, according to project leaders with the Missouri Historical Society.

Trailnet claims a 12-mile walking and biking trail network could boost property values and business districts, while making the city more attractive to younger generations.
Trailnet

Trailnet wants to build a network of bicycle and walking trails that would connect St. Louis' north side and south side neighborhoods to an east-west trail that stretches from downtown to Washington University.

The nonprofit, which has been working for several years to develop a network of protected trails on existing city streets, has released a map that shows the general location of the proposed paths. They reach north to Fairground Park and Old North and south to Lafayette Square, Tower Grove and Cherokee Street.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Parks Department will dedicate a sculpture and plaza at the Powder Magazine Museum at Jefferson Barracks Park on Friday.

The centerpiece of the plaza is a bronze monument by St. Louisan Barbara “B.J.” Mungenast that pays tribute to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard. The sculpture is a duplicate of a monument that Mungenast has created for Fort Myer, Virginia, where the regiment is based.

Signs held by demonstrators at a Sept. 6 rally in support of the DACA program outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. The photo was taken by Eddie Albarran who spoke at the rally. He is studying photography.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

Eddie Albarran recalls being nervous — but also very determined — as he waited to address about 60 people gathered outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill last month.

Albarran, who grew up in St. Louis, was about to acknowledge publicly a fact of his life that he usually keeps to himself: He is one of nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for  children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

Helen Lubeley Murray fills the display cases at Lubeley's Bakery Thursday morning.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

 Customers have been lining up before sunrise all this week at Lubeley’s Bakery and Deli in south St. Louis County for one last chance to buy their favorite strudels and stollens and split-layer cakes. The bakery will close on Saturday, after 80 years of business in the St. Louis area.

Helen Lubeley Murray said she and her brother Bob — who took over the bakery from their parents four decades ago — are going to hang up their aprons and retire.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

A convoy of 60 vintage military vehicles idled on the parking lot at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka last Wednesday, ready to roll at sunrise.  

But first, the convoy paused for the National Anthem.

These can-do jeeps, ambulances and trucks were parked here overnight, while the drivers slept at nearby hotels and campgrounds. The vehicles were built to transport soldiers and supplies during World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Now, they’re vehicles of history, owned by members of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, an organization of nearly 10,000 collectors.

Illinois State Geological Survey

Homeowners in the metro-east who are concerned about mine subsidence can use an interactive mapping tool provided by the Illinois State Geological Survey to see if there's a coal mine under their property.

Forest Park Forever

A $3.1 million project in Forest Park begins Tuesday with the demolition of a bridge that connects Government Drive to Pagoda Circle, requiring visitors to find a detour through the park until construction is completed.  

The Liberal Arts Bridge is one of the last of the bridges in the park slated for replacement, said Lesley Hoffarth, president of Forest Park Forever. The site is between the Boathouse and The Muny.

Fireworks at Fair St. Louis on the Fourth of July in 2006.
Dave Herholz | Flickr

Fair St. Louis will return to the Gateway Arch grounds in 2018  to celebrate the Fourth of July, organizers announced Wednesday.

The annual Independence Day extravaganza — one of the nation’s largest — was moved to Forest Park in 2014, while extensive renovations were being completed on the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. 

Author Lewis Diuguid, the son of Du-Good Chemical company founder Lincoln Diuguid August 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For more than 50 years, Lincoln I. Diuguid worked as a researcher and inventor at his Du-Good Chemical company on South Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis. But it was his formula for community engagement that would have a lasting impact on countless African-American youths.

A strip of paint that runs through Rainmaker art studio in Makanda, Illinois is meant to mark the line of totality for the upcoming eclipse.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Adam Kirby stood in the path of totality, deep in the hills of Southern Illinois, and acknowledged that he has absolutely no idea how many guests to expect on his farm on Aug. 21 for the Great American Eclipse.

He’s turning this field of dreams — just outside the village of Goreville — into a one-day-only parking lot for eclipse-watchers: Ten bucks for cars and trucks; $30 for RVs.

The gift shop at the state historic site is selling commemorative T-shirts but is out of eclipse glasses. August 11 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Several hundred people are expected to show up at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Aug. 21 to observe the solar eclipse from the “City of the Sun,” even though the historic site is just outside the path of totality.

The state historic site will experience about 99.5 percent totality and is not planning special events that day, said assistant manager Bill Iseminger.

He expects that most of the eclipse-watchers will want to climb the 156 steps to watch from the top of Monks Mound, the largest of the mounds built by the ancient Mississippians between 1000 and 1400 A.D.

Calvin Riley stands in one of the many rooms of the  George B. Vashon African-American Museum on St. Louis Avenue. (July 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Calvin Riley has spent years searching through musty basements and dusty attics to rescue the objects of historical significance that he displays in his George B. Vashon African-American Museum in north St. Louis.

“What I show here, you’re not going to see in other museums,’’ Riley said.

A pond inside the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest in Forest Park. July 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ecologist Amy Witt of Forest Park Forever was leading a nature walk through the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest, a wooded habitat on the park’s southwestern edge. There are trees here that are older than the 1,300-acre park, which the city of St. Louis opened in 1876.

“They’re awesome. Right? We have some really old trees. We have some really young trees. That’s the natural regeneration of a forest and of a habitat,’’ Witt said. “We are called Forest Park for a reason.’’

The 'Baby Arch' stands outside a visitors center in Warren, Pennsylvania. (June2017)
Provided by Walt Atwood

More than a half-century after the 630-foot Gateway Arch was “topped out” on the St. Louis riverfront, a 14-foot “Baby Arch” has been unveiled in a little town in northwestern Pennsylvania to honor the boilermakers who built the 142 triangular sections of the national monument.

“It’s a baby masterpiece,’’ said Ed Atwood, who led the effort to construct the tribute outside a visitors center in Warren, Pennsylvania.

Historian Anne Walker is surrounded by family photos in the living room of her home in East St. Louis. June 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Residents of East St. Louis will gather on Sunday to remember the victims of the bloody 1917 race riot with a solemn processional to the Eads Bridge.

On July 2-3, 1917, mobs of white people, angered over labor issues, roved through the city, assaulting African-Americans and burning their homes and businesses.

Although the official death toll was 48 — 39 blacks and 9 whites — historians believe more than 100 people died and hundreds were injured, including women and children.

The intersection of Collinsville and St. Louis avenues in East St. Louis is where a mob of white rioters first gathered before they rampaged through the city, seeking out and killing black residents.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Andrew Theising was sitting behind the steering wheel of his car, pointing out the pathways of city streets that vanished long ago beneath a parking lot in downtown East St. Louis.

“This is where the homes were burned,’’ he said, solemnly. “This is where African-Americans were hung from the streetlights. This was the height of the violence and the bloodshed.’’

A family flees violence in East St. Louis following the 1917 race riots.
Courtesy of East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative

The social, economic and political factors that led to the deadly East St. Louis race riots 100 years ago will be examined at a conference that begins Friday. 

The point is to educate people about the riots while beginning an ongoing conversation about what the region still faces today, said the Rev. Joseph Brown, chairman of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission.

The Goldenrod Showboat took on about 7 feet of water when the Illinois River flooded near Kampsville, Illinois, in early May 2017.
Historic Riverboat Preservation Association

Illinois River floodwater has drained from the hull of the Goldenrod Showboat, along with any lingering optimism that the century-old vessel can be saved, according to the preservation group that owns it.

“There’s no glimmer of hope,’’ said Jacob Medford, vice president of the nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association. “We’ve tried our best with the Goldenrod, but not everything works out exactly how you want it. But we gave it our all.”

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